The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREENE
This is a motion for a preliminary injunction to restrain defendants British Airways and British Caledonian Airways from engaging in foreign proceedings which would interfere with the jurisdiction of this Court. The background of the current phase of the proceeding, briefly, is as follows. This case had been pending in this Court for some months when these two defendants, among others, proceeded ex parte and without notice to this Court, to secure an injunction in the British High Court of Justice which for a lengthy period of time precluded Laker from taking any steps in the litigation here.
See generally, Laker Airways Ltd. v. Pan American World Airways, 559 F. Supp. 1124 (D.D.C. 1983); Laker Airways Ltd. v. Pan American World Airways, 577 F. Supp. 348 (D.D.C. 1983); Laker Airways v. Sabena, 235 U.S. App. D.C. 207, 731 F.2d 909 (D.C. Cir. 1984). Ultimately, on July 19, 1984, the British House of Lords ordered the injunction dissolved. House of Lords Judgment in British Airways Board v. Laker Airways Ltd. reprinted in XXIII Interg. Leg. Mats. 727 (1984).
The irreparability of the injury to Laker in the event of further interference with the litigation here is obvious as is the likelihood of its success on the merits should there again be such interference. Laker Airways v. Sabena, supra. Further, while defendants profess that they do not intend to repeat their previous conduct, this primarily demonstrates that an injunction would not injure them. In short, under the traditional standards for injunctive relief
the issuance of a preliminary injunction is clearly warranted. The real question is -- what activities should such an injunction cover? As to that, there does not now appear to be any real dispute about two of the three relevant problems.
First. There is general agreement that, following the decisions of the United States courts and that of the House of Lords, the defendants cannot maintain that they have the legal right to seek to frustrate the proceedings in this Court through orders of the British courts, irrespective of whether those orders operate directly to interfere with this Court's jurisdiction or whether they do so indirectly (by preventing Laker from litigating here). Injunctive relief to that end is therefore appropriate and will be granted.
Second. There is also general agreement that this Court should not, at least at this time, enjoin the so-called parallel proceedings in the British courts.
Injunctive relief against the institution or maintenance of such proceedings will accordingly be denied.
Third. The difficult issue -- and the one on which the parties are in sharp disagreement -- relates to the Court's authority to enjoin the defendants from seeking to importune the British Parliament or the British executive authorities
to take actions which might frustrate the ability of United States courts to continue with this litigation.
It should be well understood, however, that the Court is taking this action only to preserve the status quo pending the briefing and decision of the legislative-executive question. The issuance of today's injunction should therefore not be regarded as a definitive decision -- one way or the other -- on whether the Court has the power ultimately to enjoin defendants from seeking British legislative and executive remedies with respect to ...